The Fifth Of July
by Lanford Wilson

February 9 - 24, 1990
Directed by Kate Hammet-Leader

The scene is a sprawling farmhouse in rural Missouri, which is home to Ken, a legless Vietnam veteran, and his lover, Jed, a horticulturist. They are visited by Ken's sister, June, and her teenage daughter, and by Gwen and John--the former a hard-drinking, pill-popping heiress who aspires to be a rock star, the latter her wary-eyed husband and manager.

All are old friends from college days, and former activists who agitated for what they hoped would be a better world. The action centers on Gwen's offer to buy the farm, which she plans to convert into a recording center, and on Ken's Aunt Sally, who has come to the family homestead to scatter the ashes of her late husband. Their talk, as the play progresses, is sharp and funny and, in the final essence, deeply revealing of lost hopes and dreams and of the bitterness which must be fought back if one is to perceive the good which life can offer.

- Dramatists Play Service


In Lanford Wilson's THE FIFTH OF JULY, we find a generation in quiet crisis - the generation whose college years were during the 1960's and the Vietnam Conflict. He shows us the "morning after" - an emotional, physical, and spiritual hangover from the era of the Flower Child and Vietnam.

The scene is set in 1977 and the fireworks of the 60's have fizzled and grown cold, cold as our dreams of a brave new world of brotherhood and equality. Today our mouths are filled with the sour aftertaste of the heady wine of idealism.

We laugh with, grieve with a lost generation of young adults trying to piece together the confetti of their lives after the celebration has passed. Yet, what can you and I gain from this funny, bitter, painful, but ultimately hopeful insight into the life of Kenny Talley and his friends? Many of us, too, carry the physical and spiritual scars of Vietnam, casual drug use, protests, casual sex, shattered dreams.

Kenny struggles with a vision of pieces of his buddy's body raining down around him in the fields of Nam. Pieces of his own life are still falling about him now, 15 years later. It seemed so important then.

How fast it all went by.

Today the words "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" are just a quote kids memorize for tests. They view without passion old footage of the "I had a dream!" miracle that moved our souls.

It's History, man! History!

So here we stand, halfway toward death. "What was it all for?" we ask in anger. Shall we hang on to our disappointment or grow up and accept the present?

Wilson confronts us as Kenny confronts Wes in the play. From disillusionment, disappointment and shattered dreams draw new strength. Release the past. Go forward. Involve yourself in the future. "Eat the fart-thawed meat and live!"

- Kate Hammett-Leader





Ken Talley, Jr.

  Robert Kelpine
Jed Jenkins   Stan Kamp
Gwen Landis   Vikki Simer
John Landis   Michael Harkey
June Talley   Rhonda Clark
Shirley Talley   Danielle Centracco
Sally Talley Friedman   Laurel Van Horn
Wes Hurley   Chris Crane


Director   Kate Hammett-Leader
Stage Manager   Gary Thomas
Asst. Director   Cate Redding
Asst. Stage Mgr.   Mary Sine
Booth Crew   Stephanie Telleen
Set Design   Jim Osterlund
Asst. Set Const.   Earl Hengel
Lighting   Mike Cregan
Set Crew   John Q. Wilson
Voiceover   Jason Burkhart


Jewel Box Theatre - Roger Ellis - Janet Runge - Christina Rich - Richard Charnay - Ruth Charnay - Jeannine Houx - Kenny Walker - Rob Foley - Calvin Worth - Carol Sorrels - Odie Spencer

Produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.


1999-2011, Carpenter Square Theatre.
All original articles, photos, and graphics are copyrighted. All rights reserved